Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pet Portraits - Part One

As many of you know, dogs are one of my favorite subjects to paint. Kimberly and I document some of our favorite pet portraits, and some that just make us laugh, on our travels to museums.

There are just too many good paintings for one post, so I'll split this topic into two posts.

I'll start with one of my absolute favorites. This piece by Anders Zorn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art perfectly balances the relationship between the sitter and the dog, with neither overwhelming the other.

"Mrs. Walter Rathbone Bacon (Virginia Purdy Barker)" • Anders Zorn • 1897 • Oil on Canvas • 67.25”x42.5”
The dog is simply painted with bravura brushwork, and Zorn perfectly captures the feel of the thick, soft fur. Looking at this, you could almost expect the dog to walk out of the picture frame. I highly recommend viewing this one in person.

In this piece by Edouard Manet at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the dog is only a supporting element, but I find it to be one of the most interesting parts of the painting.

"The Railway" • Eduard Manet • 1873 • Oil on Canvas • 36.75”x43.875"
While the brushwork is direct and solid, the pup has a very delicate feel. Notice how the brush strokes along the back scumble along the edges, creating a softness that does not draw away from the head.

Here is another by Manet that again employs a combination of hard and soft textures and edges to direct the viewer towards the head. 

"A King Charles Spaniel" • Edouard Manet • c. 1866 • Oil on Linen • 18.125”x14.9375"
And now for one that I find hilarious. This piece by Francisco de Goya is also from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The face of María is beautifully painted, but the dog just might be related to Animal from the The Muppets.

"María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga, later Condesa de Chinchón" • Francisco de Goya • 1783 • Oil on Canvas • 52.9375”x46.25"
The dog is almost decorative, with textured strokes reminiscent of a faux painted wall. It's weird, and I love it.

Another by Goya that I also find humorous.

"The Marquesa de Pontejos" • Francisco de Goya • 1786 • Oil on Canvas • 82 13/16" x 50”
The ornamentation that the pug wears is given far more importance that the dog itself.

I first saw this piece by J. Alden Weir during a visit to the Museum of the Dog in New York. The museum itself is excellent overall, and this piece is my favorite of the collection.

"Words of Comfort" • J. Alden Weir • 1887 • Oil on Canvas
The painting borders on the illustrative, but I mean that in a positive sense. The draftsmanship is incredible. Just look at the weight of the paws in this detail.

This piece by Jamie Wyeth from the Brandywine River Museum of Art has a much more contemporary feel with a seemingly Jackson Pollack inspired background.

"Kleberg Daydreaming" • Jamie Wyeth • 2016 • Mixed Media on Paper
What I really love is the expression Wyeth captured on Kleberg's face. I've seen many a dog enjoying warm sunshine with that very look.

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No comments:

Post a Comment